Baldwin 'gutted' for fellow team-mate

PAT Baldwin feels “gutted” for his regular centre-half partner, Paul Reid, who is sidelined for the rest of the season with a long-term knee injury.

Carl Marston

PAT Baldwin feels “gutted” for his regular centre-half partner, Paul Reid, who is sidelined for the rest of the season with a long-term knee injury.

But Colchester United stalwart Baldwin is looking forward to striking up a solid partnership with the in-coming Chris Coyne, not least because the duo teamed up to mastermind a 1-0 win at Oldham on Saturday.

Baldwin and Coyne will occupy the heart of defence again for tonight's visit of relegation-haunted Swindon Town. In fact, injuries and suspensions permitting, they look set to start the final 11 games of the campaign.

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Reid suffered the knee injury during the 2-2 draw at Huddersfield a week ago, after starting 10 of the U's last 11 games. Results of a scan have confirmed that the ex-Barnsley defender will be out for several months.

Club captain Coyne, who has had niggling injuries of his own this season, in addition to embarking on several trips away with the Australian national team, replaced Reid at Huddersfield and then produced a solid display from the start at Oldham.

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“I'm looking forward to playing alongside Chris (Coyne) over the next few weeks. I have always enjoyed partnering him,” revealed Baldwin.

“However, I'm absolutely gutted for Paul Reid. It's a big shame because that's his season over now.

“He had been playing well for a long time, and we had forged a good understanding. But Chris is a quality player, and of course an international, and he's been waiting for his chance.

“I thought we were pretty solid against Oldham. We knew that they would come at us in the second half, with them being the home team, but we coped well,” added Baldwin.

Former Chelsea trainee Baldwin has played more games than any other U's centre-half this season, even though injury prevented him from making his first appearance until mid-October.

In fact, before then he had not played a full 90 minutes since the turn of last year (FA Cup defeat to Peterborough on January 5, 2008) due to a knee injury and then a shoulder problem.

The 26-year-old did not feature in the U's first 14 games of the campaign, but by contrast he has only missed one of the last 28 fixtures. He is now one of the first names on manager Paul Lambert's team-sheet.

“This is a massive week for us,” insisted Baldwin.

“We have two big home games, against Swindon and Crewe (on Saturday). They have both been struggling this season, but our home form has not been great.

“Six points from these two games would really catapult us up the table. We would have momentum and we certainly haven't given up hope of making the play-offs.

“I'm not using it as an excuse, but our pitch is not the best at the moment, and we are finding it difficult to play on. It's very bumpy, which affects the way we can play.

“It would be nice to play on a better pitch, but it's the same for the opposition, so we must just get on with it,” added Baldwin.

In addition to Reid, the U's are again set to be without wingers Mark Yeates and Lewis Gobern, who both missed the trip to Oldham due to calf injuries.

Johnnie Jackson has made good progress after suffering a shoulder injury a couple of months ago, but tonight will probably come too soon for the former Tottenham utility man.

The U's have only lost one of their last nine away league games, but it's been a different story at the Community Stadium, where they have won only one of their last four home fixtures.

In fact, United have accrued more points on the road than they have on home turf, since their summer move from Layer Road. Lambert's men have chalked up 28 of their 50 points away from home.

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